Mystery/Thriller New Releases for Q1 of 2021

Oh heyyyyyyy! How’s 2021 treating you so far? Like a sledgehammer to the head? Good, me too. Glad we’re on the same page.

I definitely slacked on my “new releases” posts last year and I’m fully aware of that. And by slacked, I very generously mean that I didn’t post a single fucking one.

But, as I’ve said on repeat, 2020 can eat a bag of dicks. Among its less egregious crimes is that it messed so hard with my motivation to do literally anything I typically like to do. All I had the attention span for was reality tv and changing out of one pair of leggings into an identical, cleaner pair of leggings. Stress levels increase = concentration levels decrease. It’s science.

And even though 2021 hasn’t been much better so far, and in fact seems to be impacting my mental health much harder the closer we get to the one-year anniversary of this shit, (shout out to crying jags over small inconveniences!) I’m going to muscle through like Christina Aguilera. She’s a fighter.

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If you’ve been luckier than me and have managed to actually read in this pandemic, number one – I’m jealous. And number two – I’m here to restock that TBR, because despite my jealously, I want you to be happy. Look no further than this list of new releases to find your next read.

If you’re having a hard time reading like yours truly, this list is still for you, booboo! As everyone should know by now – reading books and acquiring books are two totally separate hobbies. And if you’re even more like me then compulsive online shopping is one of the only things getting you through this shit lately. So, let’s buy some motherfucking books!

This is obviously not a comprehensive list of new releases, because I do not have the fucking time for that, but it’s a place to start. And I know I should have posted this a month ago, but hellloooooo did you hear what I just said about my mental health?

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Also, before you get confused, my “buzzed score” is really simple – the more emojis, the more into it I am. But moreover, it’s just a reason for me to put together different emojis to mean I’m smoking weed and getting high. Okay, let’s goooooooo!

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Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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★★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2020

Filed Under: Sarah Keonig’s soothing tones


Remember when I was on the blog tour for this last August and said I’d have a review posted “soon?” Man, I’ve got some hilarious jokes.

Listen, I’m blaming everything on 2020. I’m double-digits deep on back reviews and triple digits up in unread ARCs because I just… couldn’t. And I didn’t know how to even explain what was wrong/is wrong with me. But it’s literally all the Pandemic’s fault. I have the science to back it up! Research shows that the high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that we have been producing extra for a prolonged period because of the pandemic, can inhibit perceptual learning and memory formation. This interferes with our ability to assimilate facts and focus on work. So, if you’ve been having trouble working, reading and or just general concentration has been difficult for you, then this is why. STRESS, bitch! That you got from a Panny!

I just learned this after a whole fucking year of screaming at my husband, “why can’t I do any of the things I like to do?”

Now I know.

I had big plans for last year. I was going to get my reading life organized, tons of reviews posted and make a serious dent in my ARCs, None of that happened. Now, we’re days away from the one-year anniversary of this goddamn pandemic. How can it be March 2021 when I’m still processing March 2020!?

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Anyway, it’s officially six months since I was supposed to review this book, so let’s get this shit posted.

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Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman

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★★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2019

Filed Under: Déjà vu


Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.

This is mostly an author issue. The being, you think you’re writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but objectively you’re not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.

I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.

Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!

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Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

If your lonely, sad, and blue, the whisper man will come for you.

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★★★★★

Caledon Books | 2019

Filed Under: Your kid’s dead imaginary friend


I’m usually super hesitant to read a book that is making the rounds on the Hype Train Express. I tend to be disappointed; closing the book only to be like, “well, I definitely read this wrong? What is everyone talking about?” (But let’s be real, I’m not actually reading the books wrong.)

Either way, none of that applies this time. To quote Bailey Sarian: Nay, nay I say! The Whisper Man by Alex North gets an enthusiastic 5-stars from me. Like so enthusiastic, it’s almost sexual.

Toot-fucking-toot, bitches!

This book legit unnerved me and I can’t say that happens very often. Because I’m dead inside? Likely. Because I read so much dark fiction? More likely. But with this one, I was turning on the lights and setting my home alarm. This was dark and twisty and creepy AF.

A few choice moments started to weave a seemingly supernatural theme into the plotline, but it was never blatant so I didn’t know what I was reading until it all came together. North kept me on the edge of my seat, tips of my toes and the end of my last nerve for the entire novel. I fucking loved it. I don’t feel like I have enough words to fully explain to you just how much I loved this, so, have this gif instead:

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This is the level I’m at.

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All The Books I Hated In 2020!

It’s that time of year again!

For my first post of 2020, I’m going to stick with the tradition I’ve fallen into at Here’s the Fucking Twist over the last three years, and use my inaugural post of the new year to complain about all the books I read last year that were disappointing, rage-inducing or just straight-up garbage.

Speaking of inaugural though, let’s take a moment to collectively unclench our assholes because TRUMP IS OFFICIALLY FUCKING GONE TODAY.

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I’m having a moment of existential crisis, because what am I going to do without that spray-tanned dumpster fire to entertain/scare/enrage me every day while I binge watch American news?! I’m hoping whatever mental energy I devoted to (read: had stolen by) Cheeto Mussolini and these last horrific four years, will now be freed up to focus on reading and running this blog. But hey, maybe it’s a smoother transition to just become fully obsessed with not dying in a global pandemic? We’ll see. So many choices for my life!

Honestly, 2020 was a hard reading year for me. I’m sure some of you can relate. So many outside forces were stressing me THE FUCK OUT and I couldn’t concentrate on anything that required significant brain power. March to September basically saw me unable to get out of my pajamas, watching reality TV and doom-scrolling on Twitter. But, after today, I have a good feeling about 2021!

Though the pandemic is seemingly worse then ever, and I am stuck in an endless time-loop of being in my house doing the same thing every fucking day, I do think we’re heading towards better times.

So, while I head into 2021 with optimism and hope, let’s take a look back on all the books I read last year that did nothing to distract me from the hellscape of real life and only added to the negativity.

I read this shit so you don’t have to, friends! Let’s gooooooooo!!

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Merry Everything & Happy Whatever!

This is just a short post to say I wish you all a very Merry Everything and a Happy Whatever!

Whatever you celebrate, whoever you are – unless you’re a fucking asshole – I wish nothing but the best for you this holiday season and in the new year. If you’re down with Santa, I hope he is good to you… but I’m so sure he has an ass-load of coal to give out, too. Seems like an array of dickbags revealed themselves in 2020.

Speaking of dicks, we’re almost done with 2020!!!

And what a wild-ass trip it has been.

Between political dumpster fires, uprisings in social movements, environmental catastrophes and a global pandemic the likes of which we haven’t seen in a century – I’m fucking exhausted. Aren’t you?

Jason Bateman Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live

I don’t think any of us could have predicted the kind of emotional and mental toll 2020 was going to take. The changes we would make, the lives we would lose… it has been almost unprecedented… 1918 shoutout!

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Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison

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★★★½

Berkley | 2020

Opening Hook: Not Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Main Character: Hopeful, despite the rotted teeth

Plot Twisty-ness: Unexpected body horror


This was definitely interesting. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing this time. It’s a novel I won’t soon forget and the catalyst for my decision to not read horror novels involving teeth for the rest of my fucking life. Thank you very much.

This is hard to review because it’s essentially a spoiler minefield from beginning to end, but I’ll do my best to explain why you should read this book if you’re looking for, what I’m calling, Girls’ Weekend Horror.

Honestly, I didn’t hate this. I might have actually really liked it. I think my expectations were tempered by the abundance of disappointed reviews I came across before I ever cracked this one open – and by cracked open, I mean swiped open because #netgalley. I get some of the criticisms, but for me, I had a good time. And I wasn’t even high!

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Review: The Chill by Scott Carson

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★★

Atria | 2020

Opening Hook: Drowning an entire village

Main Character: Can’t stop, won’t stop talking about dams

Plot Twisty-ness: Drowned along with the village


I’ll be honest, I read this book in July 2020 and it was so fucking boring that to write a review now is going to be difficult. All I know for sure is that it was a snoozer when it was supposed to be a pee-in-your-pants supernatural horror/thriller.

So, we’re off to a great start.

Basically, the small village of Galesburg in upstate-New York was flooded a century ago to create the Chilewaukee reservoir – nicknamed The Chill – to provide water to millions of southern New Yorkers. Of course, Galesburg residents weren’t super psyched to have their hometown put underwater, which is totally understandable, but there wasn’t much they could do about it. It was a political decision that was moving ahead whether they liked it or not – their town was being confiscated.

That didn’t mean, however, that the townsfolk would go down without a fight. They banded together, starting a fierce rebellion that promised to kick ass and get revenge, no matter how many lives were lost along the way.

But, you know, government versus village rebellion means the government won.

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Review: Cut to the Bone (Agent Sayer Altair, #3) by Ellison Cooper

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★★★★

Minotaur Books | 2020

Opening Hook: STEM stands for Soon They’ll End up Murdered

Main Character: Still waiting for that inanimate object to come to life

Plot Twisty-ness: Goes over the conspiracy top


Not that it matters in the long run, but I wish this had a single-word title. The first novel is Caged, the second is Buried. And the third one, Cut to the Bone, is fucking up the title flow for me. But whatever, I’m weird so shit like this bothers me. I’ll talk to my therapist about it.

Then again, sticking too closely to a title gimmick can become fucking stupid. Just look at literally any series by James Patterson. At this point, most of his titles don’t even make sense to the plot.

But enough about my arch-nemesis…

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What really matters here is that Ellison Cooper is getting better and better at producing quality thriller stories with each new novel. Cut to the Bone is non-stop action from the very first chapter, and while some moments got a little too extra for me – things I won’t mention because of spoilers – overall this was an intelligent and intricately plotted novel that should be on every thriller fan’s TBR. I would, however, suggest reading the whole series from the beginning because I feel Cooper’s strongest attribute as a writer are character arcs which evolve with each new novel. She really knows how to keep a long-game plot rolling.

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Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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★★

Ballantine Books | 2020

Opening Hook: Amnesiac beach bum

Main Character: Needs a hobby

Plot Twisty-ness: A flatliner


This is such a bummer for me. I really loved Steadman’s debut novel, Something in the Water (though I’m chalking up about 33% of that to the audiobook narration, which was fucking stellar,) so I was eager to get my hands on her follow-up, Mr. Nobody.

But… *fart noises*

This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed by a sophomore novel and it won’t be the last, but it’s still a bummer.

Mr. Nobody is the most vanilla – and slightly annoying – thriller I’ve read this year.

I know I can get a bit spicy like chicken wing sauce when I write negative reviews, but then there are times like these where I’m just bummed out that I didn’t like something.

I’m Eeyore writing this fucking review right now.

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That might change the further I get into writing this. Sometimes I can work up a bad attitude from nothing. It’s like magic.

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